About Our Company

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The Norton Story: A 100-year journey from pottery to proppants

Norton developed its first man-made proppant product – a sintered bauxite sphere that allowed greater operating depth and greater economic return than conventional sand proppant – in 1973, at the request of Exxon Corporation. But the company's experience with highly processed, naturally occurring base materials dates back more than 100 years, to the F.B. Norton Pottery Shop in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Originally, F.B. Norton manufactured industrial pottery. It later developed the first precision-made, mass-produced grinding wheels for industrial applications, changed its name to the Norton Company and eventually evolved into the world’s largest manufacturer of abrasives for industry, producing grinding wheels, diamond products, loose grain and sandpaper. Over time Norton became a leader in the development and manufacture of industrial ceramics.

So when the call came from Exxon, Norton was ready. The original Sintered Bauxite proppant went into full commercial production in 1977 and generated such demand that Norton opted to build a manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas, dedicated solely to its production. This plant opened in 1979. In 1984, Norton expanded the Fort Smith facility to triple production capacity.

Five years later, in 1989, Norton was acquired by Saint-Gobain, a worldwide leader in industrial ceramics, plastics and glass. This new association provided Norton with access to the global resources of one of the world’s one hundred largest industrial corporations.

In October 2004, Norton Proppants changed its name to Saint-Gobain Proppants in order to highlight the expertise of parent company Saint-Gobain in the development and manufacture of ceramic materials. The new name also reflects the company’s focus on global markets, and its ongoing efforts to respond to increasing industry demand. Saint-Gobain Proppants has completed several significant expansion projects in recent years – including acquisition of a manufacturing plant in Guanghan, China, to serve growing markets for proppants in China, Russia and southeast Asia, and construction of a brand-new facility in Little Rock to serve the burgeoning uncoventional market in the U.S.


Compagnie de Saint-Gobain is a materials company with a distinguished history. It was founded more than 345 years ago and has since become a world leader in the Habitat market, providing innovative solutions to meet the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. Saint-Gobain operates in more than 60 countries, employing approximately 195,000 people in four major business sectors: Innovative Materials, Construction Products, Building Distribution and Packaging. Saint-Gobain Proppants is a business unit in the Innovative Materials sector.

Learn more about Saint-Gobain at www.saint-gobain.com.

Norton Emery Wheel Co. building
SB Fort Smith

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